Every culture has its own gift-giving traditions. These provide each country with a defining detail, a piece of that society which belongs to the people and their history. When it comes to creating custom gifts, shopping markets for each country vastly differ. Some of these gifts are more intricate than others, some date back to ancient eras, others embrace modern technology and adapt tradition to the current day. All are diverse, and all highlight humanity’s generosity and creativity. The list of various shopping markets for personalized gifts around the world is endless.
Ease of Access
For residents of the United States, customized gifts are everywhere. Part of the U.S. culture is the seemingly unlimited availability of all types of goods, including those small gifts that help each occasion stand out on its own.
For instance, birthday parties usually feature themed decorations, like custom latex balloons or personalized cakes. Items such as these custom balloons can be accessed with ease; it’s as simple as going to a website like this one and ordering as many balloons as you like with whatever designs you prefer. Every detail is up to the customer.
This gives a unique angle to American gift-giving culture. It utilizes all the facets of fast-paced efficiency and delivers a gift that can turn any event into something special. Of course, the United States is not the only country with custom gifts or products. Adding that personalized finish is something that has been part of international gift-giving for as long as gifts have been given.
Simple, but Classic
Consider the panettone. It is a tall, simple Italian cake baked and eaten mainly around Christmas and the holidays (buona festa!) It is one of the first “customizable” gifts known to Italian culture, dating back to the ancient Romans in its earliest forms. It is generally made from a wheat flour and yeast base.
Nowadays, panettone comes in a wide variety of flavors, like amaretto or chocolate, and has fillings like dried or candied fruits. While panettones are now mass-produced in most areas, any authentic Italian pasticceria, or bakery, will carry these traditional cakes during the holiday season. They are the perfect gift to bring to an Italian holiday celebration, just as they have been for centuries.
Merging the Past and Present
As the years progress and technology develops at an exponential rate, the cultural shopping market for customized gifts has become more streamlined. For instance, a quirky New Year’s tradition in Vietnam is to present friends and family members with hand-carved melons (or other fruits) which depict intricate scenes or designs. Until recently, these designs have always been hand-carved by dedicated sculptors.
In the last few years, various Vietnamese artisans have found a way to produce these delicately carved melons through modern laser technology. The laser-guided carving tools are programmable, allowing the artists to turn out dozens of these melons every day. These go straight to the shelves, where they sell quite cheaply. It is customary to offer these melons to friends or party hosts throughout the New Year’s celebrations.
The Gift of Culture
Whether it’s customized balloons, classical Italian sweets, or a new twist on an old tradition, a customized, culturally-based gift can breach all sorts of classification boundaries. They all serve to illustrate the beauty of distinctions between societies, and how each culture celebrates gift-giving differently. Every trip to a foreign country is another chance to see how little things, like customized gift-giving, can influence the identity of the entire nation. The gift is culture.